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Catholics call on French parliament to probe paedophilia in Church

media Pope Francis's calls for action against child abuse in the Church have gone unheard in France, the appeal claims REUTERS/Max Rossi

A group of French Catholics has called for a parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse in the Church. In an online petition they cite the examples of Australia, Ireland and the US state of Pennsylvania and accuse the Church's leaders of "ignoring or even concealing" the suffering of victims.

Pope Francis's appeals to "fight this scourge" have fallen on deaf ears, particularly in France, an appeal in Témoignage Chrétien, a paper founded by Catholic resistance fighters during World War II, declares.

"Today in our country the Catholic Church thinks it is enough to repeat the words of the pope without taking any significant initiative to look into the crimes ... and especially their insitutional and structural causes," it says.

The Church itself cannot be judge and accuser, the appeal argues, and is subject to the law, notably since it receives public funds for its charitable works.

"We do not want to stir up a scandal but to end an immense one," it concludes. "That of the deafening silence of the Catholic hierarchy faced with suffering which has, for the most part, been consciously ignored or even concealed for too long."

MPs back call

Among the signatories are former environment minister Roselyne Bachelot, high-profile lawyer William Bourdon and monk and psychiatrist Laurent Lemoine.

For the call to be taken up parliamentarians must back it and Senator Laurence Rossignol and MP Marie-Pierre de Gontrie, both Socialists, and Jacques Maire, an MP for the ruling Republic on the Move, have already done so.

It remains unclear whether the Church would cooperate, which might mean opening up its archives and allowing priests and bishops to be questioned.

The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, told Sunday's Le Parisien newspaper that he was not opposed to the idea.

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